Week of October 1, 2012
By Valerie Grash, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor

Super Saturday certainly lived up to its billing, as racing fans enjoyed ten Grade 1 offerings and terrific performances on both coasts, setting the stage for an exciting Breeders’ Cup just one month away.

Let’s start off in the juvenile division where the country’s two best juvenile fillies remained undefeated. In the Grade 1 Chandelier (formerly Oak Leaf) Stakes (chart) at Santa Anita, Executiveprivilege (First Samurai) handled her first distance challenge with aplomb, never really challenged as she widened her advantage to win by over six lengths. Scarlet Strike (Smart Strike), a half sister to Grade 1 King’s Bishop winner Visionaire, finished second, while Miss Empire (Empire Maker), a half sister to Grade 1 Ancient Title victor Bordonaro, came in third. Meanwhile, at Belmont on Sunday, the Grade 2 Matron Stakes (chart) proved no contest for Rosie Napravnik and Kauai Katie (Malibu Moon) as she won in a hand ride by over seven lengths. Baby J (J Be K) was a distant second, with Seasoned Warrior (Majestic Warrior) third.

The juvenile males were slightly less impressive, with favored Know More (Lion Heart) upset by the Bob Baffert-trained maiden Power Broker (Pulpit) in the Grade 1 FrontRunner (formerly Norfolk) Stakes (chart). The best looking contestant was probably Capo Bastone (Street Boss) who came flying from last to finish third. In the Grade 2 Futurity (chart) at Belmont, Overanalyze (Dixie Union) rebounded from an awful out-of-the-money performance in the Grade 2 Hopeful to win in late-closing fashion over maiden winner Carried Interest (Henny Hughes) and post-time favorite Weekend Hideaway (Speightstown).

The only Grade 1 sprint race this weekend was the Vosburgh Invitational (chart) where the paired entry of Sean Avery and The Lumber Guy paid off their backers – although not with the horse expected to win. Instead of newly-rejuvenated Sean Avery, it was the 3-year-old The Lumber Guy who pulled off the upset after having not raced for over four months. Still, the most exciting horse in the field had to be wily veteran Caixa Eletronica who came flying late from dead last to finish second. Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt winner Poseidon’s Warrior got third.

One race earlier at Belmont, Grade 1 Met Mile victor Shackleford gave a game performance, but couldn’t overcome his distaste for wet tracks, finishing second in the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap (chart), won by Jersey Town. Favored Grade 1 Woodward winner To Honor and Serve gave no effort, finishing a disappointing fourth behind Trickmeister.

In last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, Nahrain was caught late by Perfect Shirl, an occurrence her connections obviously don’t wish to repeat. In the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational (chart), Nahrain persevered in a blanket finish over runner-up Zagora, who was just a nose ahead of Grade 1 Diana runner-up Dream Peace and a half length ahead of Grade 1 Beverly D victress I’m A Dreamer. Not to be outdone, well-traveled Marketing Mix put on a devastatingly quick performance, defeating her old nemesis Nereid in the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive (formerly Yellow Ribbon) Stakes (chart). The 3-year-old Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks runner-up Stormy Lucy was a surprising third, adding only further luster to the filly that routinely beats her, Lady of Shamrock. After missing some training due to mucus, Lady of Shamrock remains on track for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Unfortunately, Snow Fairy does not — an injury has ended her year, although she will stay in training next year.

Arguably, the weekend’s most exciting racing came in the Distaff division, as several Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic contenders performed exceedingly well. At Belmont, it was all Royal Delta in the Grade 1 Beldame Invitational (chart), with Mike Smith guiding her to a smashing 9-1/2 length victory over arch rival It’s Tricky, giving the Empire Maker filly nothing more than a hand ride and gearing her down in the stretch. Meanwhile, at Santa Anita, Love and Pride wired the field in the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes (chart), finishing 3-1/4 lengths ahead of Joyful Victory with multiple Grade 1 winner Include Me Out in third, just a nose in front of 3-year-old Via Villaggio. Given that Love and Pride defeated Royal Delta in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Handicap in their most recent meeting, the stage is now set for a tremendous Ladies’ Classic, especially with Awesome Feather, My Miss Aurelia, and Questing thrown into the mix.

The jockey change from Chantal Sutherland to Rafael Bejarano certainly didn’t hurt Game On Dude, as last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up was obviously the best in winning the Grade 1 Awesome Again (formerly Goodwood) Stakes (chart). Moderately surprising was the performance of Grade 1 Haskell runner-up Nonios who ran a clear second to Game On Dude, beating the likes of veterans Richard’s Kid and Rail Trip. In the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup (chart), Stay Thirsty ran a gutsy race on the lead, but was breathtakingly caught at the wire by defending JCGC champ Flat Out. Grade 1 Whitney winner (and post time favorite) Fort Larned came on for third, with 3-year-old Atigun in fourth. Trainer Bill Mott has said that, in addition to Flat Out, both Ron the Greek (sixth in the JCGC) and To Honor and Serve (a non-factor fourth in the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap) will be entered in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Who would have thought that after the unfortunate year so many top 3-year-old males have endured we would see such an exciting Breeders’ Cup Classic start to emerge? Game On Dude looks to have the home field advantage, having never lost in five starts at Santa Anita, but Flat Out looks incredibly sharp.

Find out what’s in store for the month of October in our Month Ahead!

Keep up with all the racing commentary and news at Raceday 360 Wire!

Last Week’s Races

2012 Beldame Replay
Royal Delta returns to royal form.

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

2012 Kelso Handicap Replay
Jersey Town finally puts it together.

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

2012 Vosburgh Replay
The other guy, The Lumber Guy, wins.

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

2012 Flower Bowl Replay
Nahrain wins it on the wire.

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

2012 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Replay
Point of Entry makes it five in a row.

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

2012 Jockey Club Gold Cup Replay
Flat Out guts it out to become the 10th two-time winner.

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

2012 Chandelier Stakes Replay
Executiveprivlege is the 1%!

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

2012 Frontrunner Stakes Replay
Power Broker dominates.

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

2012 Zenyatta Stakes Replay
Love and Pride all the way!

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

2012 Rodeo Drive Stakes Replay
Marketing Mix makes it look easy.

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

2012 Awesome Again Stakes Replay
Game on Dude makes it look awesomely easy, again.

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

2012 Matron Stakes Replay
Kauai Katie does it with ease.

Video courtesy of NYRA

2012 Futurity Stakes Replay
Overanalyze comes from last to first.

Video courtesy of NYRA

2012 Oklahoma Derby Replay
Politically Correct storms home.

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